Nevada State Representative-Elect Toby Yurek visited Logandale on Thursday, August 25 to learn about ongoing efforts in both Moapa and Virgin Valley to improve public education. Yurek met with about six community members who have long been advocates for education reform in the Clark County School District (CCSD), especially those related to schools in remote rural areas.
The group includes Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board (MVCEAB) Chair Wendy Malcock, Virgin Valley Community Education Advisory Board (VVCEAB) Chair Jody Thornley, VVHS Principal Riley Frey, and Logandale residents Lindsay Daly and Larry Moses. was included.
Yurek told the group that as the new legislature, it is dedicated to engaging with its constituent communities and familiarizing themselves with issues that matter to them. rice field.
“I don’t want to be the guy who asks for votes every two years,” Yurek said. “I’m here, I want to be involved, I want to be involved, and I really mean it.”
That said, Yurek said one of the biggest concerns voters expressed when they knocked on their neighborhood doors over the course of the campaign was improving public education.
“This was a big problem,” he said. “Especially because I was knocking on doors following COVID. I asked people what was the most pressing issue on their minds. This is a big problem. “
Yurek acknowledged that local group members were heavily involved in the 2017 legislation to reorganize the CCSD. The bill sought to reform school districts by increasing decision-making autonomy and funding the local school level. The group had a lengthy discussion on how the Restructuring Act failed because the CCSD Central Administration and Board refused to implement it.
“I support restructuring (the law),” said Daly. “I think it would work in theory. It has been a mess for six years and too many children have been injured because of this.”
Yurek asked each member of the group to share their proposed solution to this problem. Each member of the group expressed support for some form of the Community Schools Initiative, a proposed voting initiative currently collecting signatures. This initiative will allow the CCSD to be fully split into smaller community school districts.
“If that was my happy day wish list, our community would be allowed to have its own district,” Malcock said. “The closer the money, the closer the power.” With it, you’re more productive meeting the needs of everyone involved.It’s just a fact.”
Thornley agreed to this. She spoke about her situation during COVID when the Virgin Valley community was asking for help and the district was unable to move to fix the problem.
“We were trying to get Wifi connectivity so that kids who don’t have internet at home can do distance learning,” she said. “They kept saying Cox was providing the service for free. But Cox wasn’t here. They couldn’t work with us. It was a doable situation.”
Thornley said the community eventually banded together and gathered local resources to solve the children’s problems on their own.
“But it was largely the success that was achieved despite the district, not because of the support we received,” she said. I have encountered it many times.”
Yurek asked if anything has been done to determine if there are sufficient resources to support local school districts, including schools in both Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley.
Moses said he’s put together some rough numbers based on current projected funding per student for the number of children in local schools.
Moses noted that most small rural school districts in the state operate on budgets of $50 million to $75 million. If the local school district stays within the Clark County tax base, the per-student fee will be about $25,000 per student, Moses said. With about 3,756 students in the two valleys, he said the budget would be about $93 million.
“That should work,” said Moses.
Frey, who previously worked as a school superintendent in a small school district in Arizona, said there is power in local autonomy and problem solving.
“With the right group of locals around the table, there’s no bureaucracy. Nothing is unsolvable,” Fry said. “It’s about gathering smart people who are passionate about something, and the sky is the limit!”
“All we’re saying is, let’s control what we do here,” Riley added. If we let them do their thing, we can meet our needs.”
Closing out the meeting, Daly proposed two possible goals for submission to the state legislature next year. The first was to change state law to allow multiple school districts in large counties. This will open up the possibility of change for districts in Clark and Washoe counties, he said, specifically allowing smaller community districts to move out of his CCSD. said.
A secondary legislative objective is to conduct an independent feasibility study seeking funding of approximately $250,000 to determine whether the Virgin Valley/Moapa Valley School District will have sufficient funding to function independently. was to confirm.
“These are the first two steps we need to take to investigate this,” Dalley said. “With these things in place, we can explore possibilities and look at ways to solve some of these problems.”
Dally suggested that such a process, using Moapa/Virgin Valley schools as pilot programs, could be beneficial statewide.
“You can’t solve the state’s education problem or the state’s budget problem until you solve the Clark County education problem,” Daly said. “Education is taking so much out of the national budget that there is nothing left. The biggest vortex sucking money is Clark County. Hmm, something has to change.”
Yurek thanked the open discussion. He also expressed his support for these ideas and said he intends to continue working with local groups on these matters as the legislative session begins next year.
“You guys in this group have been able to accomplish a lot,” he said. “It’s not the Clark County School District’s fault, it’s nonetheless. It’s great to see what you’ve been doing so far. In order to do that, you urged me to work even harder.